Holy Week is the climactic week of the Church Year, and it culminates in the final three days, known as the Holy Triduum. Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday are some of the most important days of the Church year, and we will have services on each of those days to mark our journey from lent to the glory of Easter. I wanted to take this opportunity to invite everyone to join us for these services and to give you some insight into the special nature of each one.
April 18, 2019 – 7:00 p.m.
The word “Maundy” comes from the Latin “mandatum,” which means “commandment.” On this evening we remember Jesus’ commandment to his disciples, “that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (Jn. 13:34). This is also the evening where we commemorate Jesus instituting the Eucharist at the Last Supper and his washing of the feet of the disciples.
Our service on Maundy Thursday will begin with a normal Eucharist service where the color is red. Some churches choose to use white for this service, but I prefer the red of Holy Week, which represents Jesus’ blood and passion.
During the distribution of Holy Communion we will have foot-washing stations set up in the back of the Nave. Anyone who feels called may invite another person to come back with them and wash their feet. Water and towels will be provided.
The really unique part of this service comes after Holy Communion. To begin with, the extra consecrated bread and wine is consumed at this time, and the sanctuary lamp above the ambry in the chapel is extinguished. There will be no consecrated elements in the church again until the first Eucharist of Easter.
Next comes the Stripping of the Altar. The lights come down and everything in the chancel is removed and put away, leaving a bare altar. This represents how Christ completely emptied himself to be offered up as a sacrifice for sin. During this time we are called to contemplate what Christ has done for us.
After the Stripping of the Altar we have the Office of Tenebrae. This office can be done in many different ways, but in its basic form it involves the successive extinguishing of candles until the room is left in darkness, representing Jesus’ betrayal and death at the hands of sinful men. During the chanting of the Benedictus, the altar candles are extinguished, one after every other verse, and the candlesticks are removed from the chancel. The Gospel Candle is removed and “hidden,” signifying Christ’s death and the temporary victory of evil. After a closing prayer, a period of silence is observed. A loud crash is then made on the organ to symbolize the earthquake at the moment of Jesus’ death. The Gospel Candle is then returned, representing the promise of the Resurrection pitted against the approaching darkness of the Crucifixion. By the light of the Gospel Candle, the people depart from the Church in silence.
April 19, 2019 – 12:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m., and 7:00 p.m.
On Good Friday we remember Jesus’ crucifixion and death. We call it “good” because it is only through the sacrifice of Christ that our sins can be atoned for, once and for all time. The altar remains bare and the lights in the worship space remain low throughout the day.
At noon and 2:00 p.m. we will have Stations of the Cross, a traditional service that traces the journey of Jesus from his condemnation to his crucifixion through fourteen separate “stations,” each represented by a different image. Our noon service will take place in the Nave and will be ideal for individuals who do not wish to do a lot of walking or deal with the outdoor elements. The 2:00 p.m. service will take place mostly outside and will require a bit more walking around the church property. If there is rain in the forecast we recommend that people bring umbrellas or raincoats.
At 7:00 p.m. we will have the Good Friday Liturgy and the reading of the Solemn Collects. Except for the lack of music, this service begins like a typical Sunday morning. However, after the reading of the Passion Narrative from John’s Gospel the congregation kneels for the Solemn Collects, a series of prayers for individuals, the Church and the world. The Solemn Collects are followed by a short litany known as The Reproaches and a concluding prayer. Holy Eucharist is not celebrated on Good Friday and the ministers depart in silence.
The Great Vigil of Easter (Holy Saturday)
April 20, 2019 – 6:30 p.m.
The Triduum concludes with the Great Vigil of Easter at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday evening. The service starts in darkness with the ministers gathered in the narthex. The New Fire of Easter is kindled and from it we light the Paschal Candle. The Paschal Candle is carried into the Nave while chanting “The Light of Christ,” to which the congregation responds, “Thanks be to God.” Pew candles will also be lit at this time and the once dark Nave will fill with the Light of Christ. Once at the front, an ancient song known as the Exsultet will be sung. This song celebrates the Light of Christ overcoming the darkness of the world.
After the Exsultet the lights come partially on and we read a series of lessons from Scripture recounting the history of salvation. Each lesson is followed by a Psalm or a song led by our praise band. After the fifth lesson the lights will come on and we will rejoice in the Easter Acclamation, “Alleluia, Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!” The Easter service continues with the sacrament of baptism, and we are excited to be baptizing Charlotte Voll this year. After the baptism we will continue with the first Eucharist of Easter.
This is a bit different than what we have done in the past. Typically we have not had Holy Eucharist as part of our Easter Vigil service, leaving that for Easter Morning. However, the rubrics for the new ACNA Prayer Book state, “The Holy Eucharist is the proper culmination of the Easter Liturgy. As we keep this holy feast, we share the joy of our Savior’s triumph and are strengthened by his grace to walk in newness of life.”
Celebrating Holy Eucharist also serves a practical purpose for us. This past Christmas we needed to add a third Christmas Eve service to accommodate our growth and the many visitors who are drawn to All Saints for these high holy days. It is our hope that some of our parishioners might choose to make the Vigil their primary Easter celebration, thus leaving more space for people on Sunday morning. We certainly will not require that of anyone, and people are certainly welcome to attend both the Vigil and Easter morning services, but we thought it might be nice for people to have an option. Regardless of what happens we are sure that it will be a glorious celebration of the resurrection.
If anyone has any further question regarding our Holy Week services, please let me know. My prayer is that we might all have a blessed Triduum and a glorious Easter.
4/15/2019 09:58:53 am
Thank you, Father Eric, for these detailed descriptions-- very helpful!
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The Rev. Eric Zolner
Father Eric is a 3rd generation Anglican and the Rector of All Saints Anglican Church in Springfield, MO.